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  • on 28.05.2013
  • at 04:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Africa: ‘It’s the Turn of the African Woman’ 0

Cape Town — Toyin Saraki, founder and president of the Wellbeing Foundation, a maternal newborn and child health and empowerment organization, has dedicated more than 20 years to transforming the lives of women and children through advocacy and action. She spoke with AllAfrica about her work to improve health systems across Africa.

Excerpts:

What has discovering the Women: Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE) Africa Symposium done for the Wellbeing Foundation?

It’s been fantastic. I always felt as if I was working in a capsule.

When I took up the struggle in 2004 to help women in newborn and child health, to stop deaths, I thought I was the only person who could see the problem. It was as if I was the only person who was raising the alarm and I was working in an area that wasn’t popular. I was saying, ‘Let’s stop the deaths, lets get this traction’.

Everybody else was saying HIV, HIV, HIV. I agreed with that – I was also working in HIV – and it was hard to get the traction. Then I went to the very first WIE I was invited to and I suddenly realised there was a Toyin Saraki in almost every country in the world. I wasn’t the only person who could see the problem and most importantly I was not the only person who was crafting and proffering solutions. So going to the first WIE allowed me to meet many other people who were working in the same sphere, to learn from them, refine my own programs and then link my programs to a global movement.

It was hugely enlightening and very, very empowering. Then I started thinking, ‘Why don’t we have this in Africa?’ And it wasn’t a question of just bringing in the global [organization]. I was convinced that every single country had their own people who are super leaders, innovators, and it was just a matter of unearthing them, uncovering them and highlighting them so that we can begin to have this common purpose for Africa. This is the beginning, this is the inaugural WIE Africa and I’m hoping that this is a movement that will move throughout Africa.

Maternal health and wellbeing are key to averting maternal mortality.

What steps has the Wellbeing Foundation taken in order to help prevent maternal deaths?

By AllAfrica

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